Finding an itch to scratch

Avalon Beach, 1997

I can see it in my mind’s eye as though it was yesterday. I’m sitting alone in the dunes overlooking the sea in a small town called Avalon in the northern beaches of Sydney, Australia.

It’s an idyllic view of the south pacific, golden sands and gently crashing waves, the odd dog walker or surfer in the distance. But today the sky is moody and overcast.

I was in my early twenties, chilling out in Sydney on a three month tourist visa after completing my degree. It’s towards the end of the three months and I’m facing the prospect of returning home to the UK, but to do what?

Finding an itch to scratch
Avalon Beach, Sydney, 1997

It was not a holiday per se, I was working illegally as a casual labourer for a property developer to earn enough to get by and fly back home again.

Sydney provided respite from the expectations of the world, as far as family and friends were concerned I was “travelling”. In reality I just wanted to get off the bus for a while having completed the education conveyor belt and didn’t leave Sydney.

Finding an itch to scratch

After several months of soul searching I asked myself out loud in the dunes; “what the hell am I going to do with myself?”.

Then, on the beach that day I came up with my grand plan. I will travel the world until I find an itch to scratch. I’ll travel back to my parents home in the UK, save up properly, and then travel the world until I find something that inspires me. That’s what I’ll do.

Fast Forward 24 years

Fast forward twenty four years and I am still, in theory, saving to go travelling. I went back to the UK, got a job with the intention of saving up to go travelling, and kinda got side tracked.

My first job back in the UK was at an IT distributor, a vibrant place with lots of young people. Before I knew it I had a social life, then a car loan, then a house share…

Mid-forties, cue mid-life crisis. I’ve built a career for myself, grown a family and found engaging hobbies – but still feel as though I have not found that itch to scratch. A feeling deep down there is more out there to do. I enjoy my career in IT and very much intend to keep doing it, but also want to explore other things.

There is adventure in not knowing what comes next

I’ve taken the step of carving out half of my working week to explore what that might be. Finding an itch to scratch. This blog will record that journey.

Having played corporate whack-a-mole for 20 years It’s very weird getting up in the morning and not knowing what it is you are doing for the day after the kids are packed off to school.

I’m confident that after a bit of thinking I’ll come up with something useful. As Foo Fighters legend Davd Grohl said recently “There is adventure in not knowing what comes next”.

I’m interested in psychology, and in particular why people do what they do. Hence the title of this blog. I remember my friend Kevin at primary school who wanted to be a fireman. He grew up, got the right training, and became a fireman. Boom. How many of us are this set on what we want to do? My bet is that the majority of us stumble upon it. Should we just relax and let fate do the heavy lifting, or is their value in giving serendipity a nudge?

Finally, it’s not lost on me how fortunate I am to have the breathing space to think about all this. Stay tuned, I’ll cover this on my next blog.

Thanks for reading. I would love to hear from anyone going through the same process or with experiences to share. Publicly or privately. As the cool cats say, my DMs are open.

7 thoughts on “Finding an itch to scratch”

  1. I appreciate your candid honesty Martin.

    You’ve managed to articulate a true affliction of our modern age – success without thorough fulfilment.

    Many people, in their 20’s/30’s simply fall into professions and occupations, by accident and then become consumed and trapped by the life their income creates. (Love the rat race video).

    I’ll be stopping regularly to hear how you get on and where your call to adventure takes you.

    Best,

    Dan

  2. I feel you and am going through the same. The churn and tumble of the endless spin cycle is weighing down. The reactivity and indecision in ITAM is getting monotonous. When do I write my great works and explore my left brain a bit more? Creativity calls.

  3. Fantastic start to what I know is going to be my ‘go to’ blog for some time.

    Can’t wait to see where this takes you 👍

  4. Extremely timely and shared by many I am sure especially following our recent times. I find myself nodding sagely at your words and looking forward to your next instalment.

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